Raising Hell: Backstage Tales from the Lives of Metal Legends, by Jon Wiederhorn (Diversion Books, 2020)

Jon Wiederhorn is a veteran rock scribe who has written such No Echo-approved books as My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory (with Roger Miret) and I'm the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax (with Scott Ian). I used to work with Jon during my time as a music editor at AOL Music some years ago and I'm a big fan of his style of writing. That's why I'm always excited to see when he has a new longform project out.

Jon's latest work is Raising Hell: Backstage Tales from the Lives of Metal Legends, a book that delivers the kind of debauchery one would expect from that kind of title.

As someone who is approaching my 45th year on this planet, and is old enough to remember devouring rock rags (and I mean that with nothing but the utmost respect) like Hit Parader and RIP MagazineRaising Hell reminds me of a time before so-called "cancel culture" existed and rock stars were allowed to be, well, rock stars. 

So, yes, there's plenty of groupie-related content to be found throughout Raising Hell, but it wouldn't be an honest rock book without Jon taking a warts and all approach. Told in an oral history style, Raising Hell includes many different facets that encompasses the life of a touring musician, including the hilarious and embarrassing shit many of them experienced on the way up and even during their glory days.

The candid manner in which these stories are delivered is highly satisfying, especially in this day and age of everyone being so measured in their interview responses.

Raising Hell includes interviews with members of such bands as Black Sabbath, Lamb of God, and Slayer, and Jon gets great stuff from most of the folks featured. Speaking as someone who has interviewed some of the same musicians in the book, I can tell you it wasn't always easy to draw quality quotes from them, so it's a testament to Jon's strength as a journalist that the stories pack as much punch as they do here.

If you're like me and unapologetically love hard rock and heavy metal during its sleaziest era(s), Raising Hell should sit nicely in your book collection alongside Hammer of the Gods and The Dirt.

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